Meet Stephanie Hazelwood. She is currently a student of Journalism at Harvard University and a friend of mines from high school. She was just a couple years ahead of me in high school and I admired her from afar, so 14 years later when she asked me if she could interview me and write a paper on The Beauty Mentor I was pleasantly surprised. I affectionately call this my first “Harvard Review” Please check it out:
A Lesson in Beauty from the Inside Out by: Stephanie Hazelwood
For years, Kristiauna Mangum would often contemplate over her makeup collection, baffled by products with names like Bootycall, Orgasm, Snakebite and One Night Stand.
What kind of message was this sending to young girls and women through products meant to make them feel beautiful, she wondered?
Mangum first entered into the beauty industry while in college as a representative with direct sales cosmetics brand, Mark. She was 1 of 12 girls on her campus to sell Mark makeup, and even helped her school become the number one selling school of Mark cosmetics in the country. Mark would award her with an internship in New York City where she learned professional makeup artistry and received intense leadership training.
Mangum’s entrepreneurial success with Mark also landed her features on Inside Edition, Oprah radio, as well as features in magazines such as Allure, Cosmo and Elle.
Eventually, Mangum would work for Bare Essentials where she learned more about the retail side of the beauty industry. She consistently earned the highest sales in her store, but while earning those high sales, noticed that some women sought beauty cosmetics almost with a sense of desperation, whether it was to look young again or to just to feel desirable.
Although passionate about makeup and beauty, Mangum battled with the message behind cosmetic sales and marketing that essentially suggests to women that their appearances are flawed and that it needs to be changed.
“Women are always surrounded by images reminding them of how they don’t measure up, and then they turn to beauty products that claim will help them,” said Mangum. “Women won’t even leave the house without putting on makeup or at least wearing lipstick, which shows we’ve become desensitized by what the industry is telling us about beauty.”
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Convinced there was something wrong with that message, Mangum decided to challenge the status quo, and find a different way to provide beauty counseling.
“When you want to redefine beauty, you can’t go by industry standards,” said Mangum.
In 2012, Mangum founded The Beauty Mentor, LLC, offering beauty and mentoring programs for girls and women from ages to 8 to 24.
Paying for training tools out of her own pocket, Mangum, then 26, started to host sessions at schools and churches to provide young girls and women with the opportunity to learn about organic skincare, discover products to enhance their natural beauty, as well as showing girls how to keep their bodies healthy by teaching them how to make organic detox smoothies.
“It’s similar to a chain reaction, said Lexi Baumeyer, 16, and program participant. “Once young girls learn to love themselves, this will expand throughout their lives. It’s all about inner beauty and girls learning to love themselves, not matter how they look like on the outside,” Lexi said.
Created through partnerships with organizations such as After-School All-Stars and Girl Scouts, The Beauty Mentor also provides on-going mentoring programs such as The Beauty of Business, which is entrepreneurial and S.T.E.M. based for school aged girls, and focuses on issues such as anti-bullying.
“I wanted to be a part of The Beauty Mentor because of the owner. Without Miss Kristi, there would be no Beauty Mentor. She is one of the spunkiest people I have ever met and will never give up on you,” said Lexi.
Together, through a recent partnership with American Heritage Girls, a national character development organization for young girls, launched The Law of Kindness Patch Program for middle-school aged girls.
The program is specifically centered on teaching the power of words and encouraging girls to speak kind words to one another, especially when they are wearing their custom and handmade, Humble Honeybee Lip balm they make in the program.
By participating in The Law of Kindness Patch Program, girls are provided with the opportunity to create their own lip gloss using natural ingredients while also learning the chemistry aspect of cosmetics, conduct market research on popular colors and beauty trends, as well as formulate a business plan to market their lip gloss. When their final products are complete, girls are then asked to spread kindness by giving two away.
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“One of the girls that participated in this program chose to give her lip gloss to her bully. These acts of kindness are in influencing so many people around the U.S.”, said Jamie Wiggins, National Program Specialist for American Heritage Girls.
The Beauty Mentor also teaches a core set of principles, that beauty is patience, kindness, modesty, decency, a loving character, gentleness and joy. These core values and mission came from what Mangum saw lacking in women and girls while working in cosmetic sales and retail.
“When I worked for Bare Essentials, it was life changing for me because I found that I connected with women in a different way than I had before.” Mangum said. “As I would do their makeup and speak encouragement, some women would literally start crying. I felt I understood why some women would really come to the makeup counter. It was almost as if they were seeking and expecting hope in a bottle,” she said.
By looking at Mangum’s physical features, you wouldn’t think that she would be so concerned about beauty. With a smooth chestnut complexion, shoulder length hair, and a smile that never seems to fade, Mangum questioned, who has the right to define what beauty means and label women? Especially, since the women that look like her are often not celebrated as beautiful.
As a kid, she was raised to believe that she could accomplish anything that she wanted to, and through high school, had strong self-confidence. She always had a desire to be the best, Mangum said. But, as she got older she started to feel the weight of maintaining that “perfect image,” causing her to often feel lonely and misunderstood.
Mangum became very emotional, experiencing “very high highs and even lower lows,” she said. She hated how emotional she had become and did not understand why.
In her early twenties, Mangum was diagnosed with an emotional disorder. Determined not to be categorized, Mangum leaned to her faith to help her deal with her issues.
“Deep down, I always knew that God would bring me out of my distress, but if I knew then what I know now, I would not have allowed the labels that were being slapped on me to devastate me,” says Mangum.
A study on beauty industry marketing found that advertising connects with women in different ways depending on their self-perception, often seeking meaning from products to construct, reconstruct or sustain the image they would like to have of themselves or develop.
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Jamie Wiggins, of American Heritage Girls sees this pattern over and over. “Beauty standards are ever changing and unrealistic for most people to reach these standards. The media is full of beautiful women who are honored for their outer beauty. While I’m sure these women are beautiful on the inside too, that’s not what is honored,” said Jamie.
Market research firm Lucintel estimates that in 2017, the beauty industry will earn $265 billion selling and advertising cosmetic products with names such as I’m Really Not a Whore, Dirty Slut, Trophy Wife, Iris I Was Thinner, and Gold Digger.
“Our money says we want to be beautiful,” says Mangum. “That’s why it’s important to teach girls about character and strength at a young age. The beauty industry is not always just cool and fun, their messages are intentional and if women and girls do not understand that, those messages have potential to become detrimental,” Mangum said.
Crystal Hughey, a Beauty Mentor program participant said, “I learned that where I buy is just as important as what I buy. I used to be a MAC girl. It is all I bought for years. Once I understood the focus of The Beauty Mentor, I made a switch and I feel great every time I use my products.”
“I love that The Beauty Mentor inspires girls to celebrate one another’s beauty by complimenting and encouraging one another. It helps each young lady be accountable for her individual atmosphere. The programs empower [us] to make a difference,” said Crystal.
After going to college and studying chemical engineering, Mangum admits that perusing a career in beauty did not always appear to be significant or important enough to her, but after cultivating relationships through her love of cosmetics, she believed God wanted her to be an engineer of people and influence women.
“While I am working to build an organization, I believe that God is also redefining me to me, helping me understand who I am today,” says Mangum. I’m not who I used to be, I’m settled, reserved, sensitive and compassionate, and I connect with peoples emotion” she said.
Committed to her calling and to her God, Mangum makes mindful efforts to embody the qualities that The Beauty Mentor stands on and hopes to sow those seeds into every women and girl she encounters.